Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Epigynes and male palps; views from the spiders

My interest of the order Araneae have been cut low since environmental issues took more space- but now, this weekend a friend called me in as a professional "spider expert" to identify spiders from trap samples they got. I do not want to boast that I am an "expert", because with a magnification of 10 to 200 times, spiders are small anyway and they are tricky to get in the right position, even doe they are in 96% alcohol and so stone-dead. With around 713 species to choose from, it was a full time job me, the "expert", to even put them into their right family, which are only around 30 in Sweden, and less in north. After 4 days in the lab in front of a stereo microscope, staring at the genitals at spiders, I can say that I know some more about the characteristics, and even got some of the more easy ones into species level. How ever, identify spiders are just one part, another is the ecology of spiders, alive spiders are more fun! Here, again, biology and ecology follows hand in hand, if we want to talk about them, we need to identify them to species. So searching for things around spiders and I realized that I've totally missed the "vegetarian spider", an interesting news from last year; The species "Bagheera kiplingi, which is found in Central America and Mexico, bucks the meat-eating trend by feasting on acacia plants". See the little film, when the jumping spider "hunts" leaves, and how it have to dodge the defending ants to go there. Read also the article, because spiders continues to fascinate.

Pictures were not from this study;
Left, Cicurina cicur, male palp. found at this page
Right, Zoropsis spinimana, epigyne. Jørgen Lissner


One day, I really wish, that we integrate more interest from biology and the living world around us. But of course, right now, we all got other more important thing do do. When my friend's fiancée went to the first lesson for this year at Med School, I can tell you that I felt like a kid in the playground, playing around with my spiders and microscope. So before we have time to have fun with the small creatures, we need a safe place to live. Environmental issues goes first until I have my own ecocity to live in, even if spider genitals can be the Sunday hobby.

Over and out

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